Looking for outdoor space? The City of Vancouver has reopened the Robson Street plaza

·2 min read
The section of Robson Street between the Vancouver Art Gallery and Law Courts has been converted into a permanent public plaza as part of a $5.38-million revamp.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
The section of Robson Street between the Vancouver Art Gallery and Law Courts has been converted into a permanent public plaza as part of a $5.38-million revamp. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

The City of Vancouver has reopened the plaza at Robson Square after two years of construction and delays.

The section of Robson Street between the Vancouver Art Gallery and Law Courts has been converted into a permanent public plaza as part of a $5.38-million revamp.

The renovations include an open space for year-old public events, with improved lighting and power connections for performers, plus new benches and moveable seats and tables.

The city has upgraded pedestrian signals and bike lanes at the intersection of Hornby and Robson streets.

It has also installed a public art piece on the plaza called "Weekend Chime" by artist Brady Cranfield, a sound installation that plays every Friday at 5 p.m.

The city said the installation plays notes based on the chorus of the Loverboy song "Working for the Weekend."

"The artwork explores themes of class, labour struggles and the versatility of pop music," the city said in a statement.

The city intends to plant more trees on the western end of the plaza facing Hornby Street, said Lisa Parker, Vancouver's branch manager of street activities.

The city says the pandemic has highlighted the need for more outdoor space to let people safely socialize.
The city says the pandemic has highlighted the need for more outdoor space to let people safely socialize.(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Construction on the pedestrian-only plaza, which was funded by the city, province and TransLink, began in 2019 and was set to be completed last summer.

But the date was pushed to the spring, forcing pedestrians to detour along Georgia Street on the north side of the art gallery.

Parker said the city was hampered by the challenges of building over an underground floor area, last winter's record-breaking rainfall and the impacts of the pandemic.

The city said the project was completed within its council-approved $5.38-million budget.

The project has been under discussion at city hall for years.

The street was first closed in 2010 to create a gathering space during the Winter Olympics. It then closed to traffic over the summer months with new installations put in each year.

City council voted in 2016 to permanently close the street to traffic and turn the area into a temporary plaza.

The move is in keeping with architect Arthur Erickson's original design for the Robson Square complex 40 years ago.